Japanese Foreign Minister plans visit to Iran in August (sources)

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi plans to visit Iran, possibly in mid-August, to forge ties with his new government led by a hard-core conservative, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

Motegi is expected to meet his Iranian counterpart as Japan aims to strengthen its traditionally friendly ties with Iran and discuss with the administration of President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, an anti-American ultra-conservative cleric, issues related to Tehran’s nuclear program, have indicated the sources.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on July 6, 2021. (Kyodo) == Kyodo

Raisi is expected to take office in early August, following his election victory last month. This is the first time in eight years that a hard-line conservative has won the presidency, fueling concern over escalating tensions between Iran and the United States.

Iran’s current Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, under the outgoing government of moderate Hassan Rouhani, should also be replaced by a hard-line conservative, according to the sources.

Motegi’s visit to Iran is expected to be part of a 10-day trip to the Middle East, which will likely also take him to Egypt and Turkey in a bid to help stabilize tensions in the Middle East, the sources said. .

It would be the first visit to Iran by a senior Japanese government official since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and then Foreign Minister Taro Kono visited in June 2019.

Motegi is also planning to visit Israel and Palestine, as Japan seeks to forge relations with the Israeli government of new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and to offer assistance in rebuilding Gaza after the Israeli bombardment in May, the sources said.

In Turkey, Motegi plans to meet with his counterpart to discuss the anti-coronavirus response and stability in the Middle East. He is also likely to visit Jordan, Iraq and Qatar.

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